Corinthia Bab Africa sets the standard
SALVINU Farrell, general manager of Corinthia Hotels International’s newest five-star property in Tripoli, Libya, is an accountant by profession whose 15-year career with Corinthia has seen him working in Malta, the Czech Republic, Togo and The Gambia, where he spent four years.
“I have had a number of interesting positions ranging from financial controller at the Palace in Malta to assistant general manager and now general manager,” said Farrell. “My financial background has been important as it has helped me understand the numbers which are all important in our business.”
Born in Malta in 1964, Farrell went to De La Salle College in Malta and then onto University. Married with one daughter he has found his current posting to Libya an interesting challenge.
“I have been at the Corinthia Bab Africa for eight months now and find it a major challenge,” said Farrell. “Keeping staff focused all the time to achieve consistency is very important and, through a programme of training and incentives, I can see that we are maintaining high levels of service.”
The Corinthia Bab Africa is considered the first “international” hotel in Tripoli and, as such, Farrell believes that the hotel is perceived as a trendsetter, establishing the highest standards which will serve as a benchmark for other hotels. The hotel has a total staff of 450 with 70 per cent being Libyan. “We are aiming to make this figure even higher as it is the policy of the company to employ local people as this helps the hotel integrate better in the local economy and society,” explained Farrell.
Following a soft opening in April 2003, Farrell arrived in March this year just as sanctions were being lifted. “We have had a very successful last eight months which shows that ‘luck favours the bold’ and Corinthia has been at the forefront of this in other markets also,” said Farrell. “Occupancy levels have been consistently high with several peak periods with 100 per cent occupancy being attained. Apart from the hotel, we also manage the commercial centre which forms part of the Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel complex.”
Farrell has overseen the opening of additional outlets in the hotel. The restaurants have been expanded to include an Asian cuisine outlet called Orient, with the idea being to create a series of outlets which offer customers everything from cakes and coffees in the aptly-named Tripoli Café, to fresh pizzas and pastas in Venezia, Moroccan food in Fes Restaurant, Asian food in Orient and a lavish international buffet in the La Valette restaurant.
One popular aspect of the hotel is the Athenaeum Spa which has been a “magnet” for visitors. “We have, in fact, restricted outside membership for the Spa as it has proved very popular and we do feel that hotel guests should always be able to find the services available,” said Farrell. “Even our Tripoli Café has become more than a café and is the meeting place in Tripoli”.
According to Farrell, Corinthia is always looking for the right opportunities, in Libya or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, work is starting on a residential complex just outside Tripoli with a range of properties ranging from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom villas with private pool.
Farrell’s philosophy for the successful running of a hotel is that both guests and staff must feel that they are being looked after. Certainly guests and staff at the Corinthia Bab Africa do share that feeling.